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C U L T U R E

Havana.  October 24, 2014

24th INTERNATIONAL BALLET FESTIVAL OF HAVANA
Irene Rodríguez Dance Company: Surprising, alluring, captivating

Mireya Castañeda  / Photos courtesy Irene Rodríguez Dance Company

Dancer and choreographer Irene Rodríguez has steadily become a prominent figure in Cuban dance. Since creating the company that bears her name three years ago, each performance has surprised, seduced and captivated the audience.

Irene Rodríguez Dance Company: Surprising, alluring, captivating

With an imposing onstage presence, Irene Rodriguez is a friendly and approachable young woman. The participation of her company in the International Ballet Festival of Havana is nothing new. At the previous festival, in 2012, she displayed impeccable credentials. The staging of her work The crime was in Granada (El crimen fue en Granada), won First Prize in the VIII Alicia Alonso Ibero-American Choreography Competition (CIC), awarded by the Author’s Foundation of the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) and the National Ballet of Cuba.

Alicia Alonso, president of the judges panel awarding the prize, noted that the choreographer "brought together flamenco, Spanish and contemporary dance in an original way in a performance of clockwork precision."

At the time, Irene Rodriguez noted that she had attempted to capture the essence of the dramatic poem by Antonio Machado, published in 1937, and dedicated to Federico García Lorca.

Focused on "creating new trends which allow the Spanish genre to evolve, merging it with anything which expands the language of the stage", the director of the Company accepted the invitation - during a press conference to present the Festival program – to discuss the world premiere of the piece she has called Aldabal.

"First of all I would like to say that it is a great opportunity for me to present this, my latest creation, during an event of international prestige, in which top dancers from many countries come together. This year I have once again been invited to the Festival by Alicia Alonso, which for me is a great honor."

The choreographer explained that this new piece, Aldabal, "comes from a place full of knockers with which doors are knocked" and is a siguiriya, considered the most essential theme of the cante jondo (deep song) genre due to the extreme depth of the quejío (lament) and its heartbreaking solemnity. It is one of the styles of flamenco, along with the soleá and the bulería.

The piece is performed by every member of the company, with music from our new and talented guitarist and songwriter, Noel Gutierrez, who has composed all the music, Irene Rodriguez added.

"You will hear a flamenco theme, one of the rhythms of the siguiriya style, yet very inspired by electro acoustics, giving it that contemporary twist that characterizes our company."

The choreographer mentioned another asset of the piece: "The dancing is accompanied by the use of castanets, so typical to Spanish dance, yet lately somewhat forgotten by different dance companies, and I wanted to rescue this in the most virtuous way possible."

Those who have seen her work know that for Irene Rodriguez there exists no movement detached from emotion, so this world premiere will not leave the public unmoved in their seats.

Among the pieces from the Irene Rodríguez Company are: Al Andaluz (flamenco); Asturias; Guajira de Lucía; la Danza Final del Sombrero de Tres Picos (classic Spanish style); Allegranza; 5 x Bulerías; Solera; Emigrantes (various dance styles such as Afro-Cuban, neoclassical and flamenco) and the show Coincidencias (diverse rhythms such as flamenco, jazz and tango).

A unique highlight of the program is the concert Spanish Symphony from classical to flamenco with the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its director, Enrique Pérez Mesa. This show was included in the Book of Honor of the Grand Theater of Havana after its premiere there in 2012.

Almost all of the works are creations of the director of the Company herself, as she is in constant pursuit "of our own style within the range of companies who revere our Hispanic roots."

The Irene Rodriguez Dance Company includes ten dancers - five men and five women - with a broad command of the different styles of Spanish dance, ballet and contemporary dance.

Her stage presence is powerful, just like flamenco, and her works always have great energy and convey an excellent bond between the choreography and the artistic elements.

Aldabal, world premiere of the Irene Rodriguez Dance Company: taconeos and elegant arms, accents, energy, rhythm and passion.

 

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